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Our wet British summers

August 2017

couple with umbrella in a storm

Weather is always a good topic of conversation in the UK...and it is proving particularly popular now as we moan about the continually wet weather this summer.

Our summer is officially classified as the months of June, July and August, and certainly records show so far that July was England’s wettest for five years...more than double the usual rainfall fell in some areas, particularly in southern England. The official figures show that in England 85mm of rain fell in the month (we are still awaiting the August figures); 40% up on the average and the wettest July since 2012, when that notoriously wet month soaked England with 114mm of rain.

Of course all this rain means sunshine levels are right down too, the usual average of 200 hours of sunshine in Britain’s “Riviera coast” of the south west dropped by more than 30 per cent this year.

But it is not all bad news. The Shetlands, which usually only gets 124 hours of sunshine in July, this year saw roughly 30 per cent more than the average.

The biggest problem of the weather is really our expectations! Every year we hope for a lovely hot sunny season, but apart from the very rare interludes, such as the summer of 1976, the weather rarely lives up to our hopes.

We are very well short of recording the wettest summer on record...according to the Met Office this was in 1912, when 384.4mm of rain fell over the UK. Still, this isn’t as bad as the wettest place on earth, Mawsynram and nearby Cherrapunji in India, which receive an average of 11,871 millimetres or rainfall annually. That is definitely umbrella if not submarine weather.

While it is generally accepted that west UK receives more rain that the east, Martinstown in Dorset, which is more south than west, actually holds the record for the UK’s wettest place after 279mm of rain fell in just one day on July 18th 1955.

There are all sorts of varied reports on rainfall in the UK so to get the most accurate figures, Laterlife approached the Met Office and found pretty well as expected the wettest parts of the UK are concentrated around the mountainous regions in Snowdonia, the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands all receiving more than 4 metres of rainfall in a year.

Other especially rainy parts of the UK include:
North West England - especially the Lake District in Cumbria and western facing slopes of the Pennines.
Western and central Wales - particularly the mountainous Snowdonia region in the north.
South west England - mainly the higher elevation areas of Dartmoor, Exmoor and Bodmin moor.
Parts of Northern Ireland.

The main towns with the most rainfall in the UK are mostly towards the west of the UK:
Cardiff with 115 cm of rain on 148 days
Glasgow with 112 cm of rain on 170 days
Preston with 103 cm of rain on 153 days
Huddersfield with 102 cm of rain on 154 days
Plymouth with 100 cm of rain on 142 days
Blackpool with 88 cm of rain on 145 days
Carlisle with 87 cm on 148 rainy days
Manchester with 86 cm of rain on 151 days
Gloucester with 84 cm of rain on 145 days
Liverpool has 83 cm of rain on 144 days

However, on a sunnier note, the driest towns with the least rainfall are towards central and eastern UK:
London is the driest with 55 cm of rain on 109 days
Ipswich with 56 cm of rain on 106 days
Cambridge with 56 cm of rain on 107 days
Middlesbrough with 56 cm on 111 rainy days
Newcastle with 59 cm of rain on 109 days
Lincoln with 61 cm of rain on 115 days
York with 62 cm of rain on 117 days
Reading with 63 cm of rain on 111 days
Northampton with 63 cm of rain on 116 days
Oxford with 66 cm or rain on 115 days.

But these are not clear cut figures either, as in fact Manchester has less rain than Cardiff but more wet days a year. Middlesbrough has less rain than Newcastle, but has more rainy days.

Perhaps the best thing about the British climate is its unpredictability and thanks to that, we should be able to continue our moaning about our awful weather for some time to come!

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